Pennsylvania’s share of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan will equate to billions of dollars in federal money that can be spent for various purposes – a reality that will obviously play a central role in budget negotiations not only this year, but over the next few years as well.
Businesses will be eligible for aid in a number of categories: economic disaster loans, restaurant revitalization grants, grants to “shuttered venues” and economic adjustment assistance. The Pennsylvania share of business aid has yet to be determined.
Broadly, the Act will provide more funding to schools and higher education institutions; businesses that have experienced economic hardship brought on by the pandemic; and the transportation, housing, child care, health and human services industries. It will also provide nearly $7.3 billion in direct aid to state government for such purposes as recouping revenue losses due to fighting the pandemic, extra pay for essential workers and water, sewer and broadband infrastructure. Funding to local governments is also included to the tune of $6.1 billion.
The issue of how the money should be spent was raised by House Appropriations Committee lawmakers this week as they moved bills that will serve as vehicles for the coming Fiscal Year’s budget. According to a story in Capitolwire, committee Chairman Stan Saylor, R-York, said the goal is to get the new federal dollars out as soon as possible as part of the next budget; adding that discussions about how aid is spent have to take into account large amounts of unauthorized overspending by the state Department of Human Services in the current budget.